Recently I went to San Salvador island in the Bahamas to count fish while scuba diving. We went with a survey guide from Reef.org and she taught us a lot about surveying and in general the effort that the organization is making towards conservation. The reason that we put all this effort into counting fish is so that scientists around the world have access to this data. It has helped them figure out the path of lionfish as well as the die off of long spines urchins. This also brings the inherent problem of inaccurate surveying. If you have a less than competent surveyor they need the proper fish identification training to make sure they don’t submit inaccurate data. Fortunately the website where you submit has an error checker so if you said you saw 100+ whale sharks it will wait for other people to submit similar reports in order to verify the information. Surveying can be really fun and entertaining during a dive if you can handle the extra distraction. Diving by itself is very dangerous; you have to pay attention to a plethora of instruments and be very aware of what is going on under the water. Adding in having to look down at that paper and keep your hands occupied surveying can often lead to you not being aware of your surroundings and missing a signal from your dive master or getting lost. My general rule to not getting distracted is to look up after every mark I do with my pencil, this way I know what’s going on and I can enjoy the dive more. Joining REEF is completely free and it gives you access to their resources and lets you sign up to their multitude of events. Most of these are on the east coast more specifically Florida but they run field survey trips all over the world. I would most definitely recommend joining their organization if you want to help the ocean even in the smallest way. I will leave a link here.
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